November is Diabetes Month. There are three million people living with Diabetes Type 2 in Canada and those numbers are rising quickly.

Children and teenagers are also getting this serious disease, due to unhealthy eating and sedentary lifestyles. Did you know that you could prevent or reduce the risk by as much as 60 per cent if you just ate a healthier diet and introduced exercise to your life? It’s that easy.

Here are some diabetic- friendly recipes to get you started. It’s no longer about cutting out certain foods, but eating them in moderation and balancing them throughout your day.

Rose’s lower fat Philadelphia cheese steak
Philly steaks, grilled thin steak topped with loads of cooked vegetables and cheese, are all the rage now in Canada. Naturally they originated in Philadelphia.

Makes 8 half sandwiches

• 2 tsp vegetable oil
• 2 cups sliced onions
• 2 tsp crushed garlic
• 2 tsp brown sugar
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup sliced red bell pepper
• 1 cup sliced green bell pepper
• 8 oz grilling steak
• 2 oz grated provolone or Gruyère cheese (3/4 cup)
• 2 Tbsp lower-fat mayonnaise
• 3 Tbsp lower-fat sour cream
• 2 tsp grated horseradish
• 4 small whole wheat rolls (6-inch)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

1. In a large non-stick skillet sprayed with vegetable spray, heat the oil then add the onions. Sauté for 8 minutes on medium heat. Add the garlic, brown sugar, salt, pepper and bell peppers. Sauté for another 5 minutes. Keep warm.

2. In a hot non-stick grill or skillet sprayed with vegetable spray, cook the steak just until done to your preference. Cool for 5 minutes then slice thinly. Add to the vegetable mixture.

3. Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream and horseradish. Spread thinly over both sides of the rolls. Divide the mixture between 4 rolls, sprinkle with cheese and replace the top half of the bun. Slice in half. Bake for 5 minutes.

Miniature New York–style cheesecakes
These petite cheesecakes are perfect for one serving and leave none to go to waste. They use Splenda not sugar, so they are diabetic-friendly. Feel free to substitute sugar if you wish. They can also be served sooner than a regular sized cheesecake, since they don’t need the same amount of time to chill. Always be sure to bake the cheesecakes in a water bath — a pan filled with water — to keep them moist and to prevent them from sinking in the middle. Serve with fresh berries or a fruit-based dessert sauce. I often like to serve these with a drizzle of melted fruit sorbet, such as mango or raspberry.

Serves 12

• 1 3/4 cups smooth 5% ricotta cheese
• 3 oz lower-fat cream cheese, softened
• 1/2 cup lower-fat sour cream
• 1 large egg
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 tsp lemon zest
• 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
• 2/3 cup Splenda

• Berries
• Icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper muffin liners.

1. In a food processor, combine both cheeses, the sour cream, egg, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, flour and Splenda and process until smooth and creamy. Divide the mixture among the prepared muffin cups.

2. Set the muffin tin in a larger pan or baking sheet with sides. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come one-third to halfway up the sides of the muffin cups.

3. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Remove the muffin tin from its water bath. Let the tin cool on a wire rack. Chill for one hour. Garnish with berries and icing sugar.

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